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Church restoration project repairs years of window pain

May 19, 2006|by TARA REILLY

CLEAR SPRING

Donna Bertschinger scraped and pulled stubborn silicone off an edge of a stained-glass window Thursday afternoon at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church.

As she struggled to remove the material, she said the silicone likely was the result of the windows being touched up at some point in the small Clear Spring parish's history.

Parishioner Joan Tucker, the church's senior warden, didn't know when that might have been or who did the work. But she guessed that the stained-glass windows hadn't been cleaned in about 100 years.

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The church, which can seat a maximum of about 100 people, was built in 1840 and was damaged during the Civil War. Rather than build a new church, the congregation decided to repair the existing church in 1870.

The church has been having weekly Sunday services since that time.

Tucker said the original windows likely were damaged in the war, and the stained-glass windows that are in place now probably have been there since 1870.

In addition to grime buildup on the windows, Tucker said pieces of some of the windows were missing and other parts had been bulging.

A window in front of the altar had holes from BBs, and a small portion of a window above the altar depicting a lamb had fallen out. Other windows needing restoration included one depicting the risen Christ and another of Jesus holding a lamb.

Tucker said some parishioners were afraid to touch the windows because of their condition.

Fearing the windows might break beyond repair, the church hired Higgins & Associates of Front Royal, Va., to restore the windows.

Bertschinger was part of the work crew that finished the job Thursday.

Tucker said she was impressed with the work. The windows are much brighter than before and the sun shines nicely through them, she said.

"We didn't know what they should've looked like," Tucker said of the windows before the work. "They are so brilliant now."

But the project doesn't end there for St. Andrew's.

The church is trying to raise money to pay for the $18,000 restoration job.

With about 35 active members, Tucker said the church has never really had much money, but it always has managed to gather it when needed. She said she hopes the same will happen for the window project.

Tucker said the church borrowed $12,000 from its emergency fund and hopes to raise another $6,000. The church has applied for two grants and has or is planning raffles, dinners and other fundraisers.

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